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Transportation is a vital part of our lives, economy and environment. It connects us to our jobs, schools, health care and recreation, and it shapes our communities. It also affects our air quality, climate and health. For these reasons, we need a transportation system that is safe, efficient, accessible and sustainable for all Mainers.

Unfortunately, our current transportation system is heavily dependent on cars and trucks, which consume fossil fuels and emit a lot of greenhouse gasses. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounted for 33% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2019, and 54% of the emissions in Maine in 2018. This contributes to global warming, which poses serious threats to our environment, economy and well-being.

We need to adopt a multimodal approach, which integrates different modes of transport optimizing the movement of goods and people. Multimodal transportation can offer numerous benefits, such as:

鈥 Enhanced connectivity: Multimodal transportation can provide safe, equitable, comfortable, convenient and accessible transportation options, including passenger light rail, bus and trolley mass transit, walking, biking and ride-sharing/ride-hailing car use. This can increase access to affordable housing, jobs, social services, health care and recreational activities for all people in a community.

鈥 Reduced congestion: Multimodal transportation can reduce the dependence on cars and the demand for road space, which can alleviate traffic congestion and improve travel times and reliability. This can also reduce the stress and frustration of travelers and improve their quality of life.

鈥 Lower costs: Multimodal transportation can lower the costs of transportation for both the users and the providers. For the users, multimodal transportation offers cheaper alternatives to car ownership and use, such as public transit, ride-sharing or biking. For providers, multimodal transportation can reduce the need for road maintenance and costly road expansion, and increase the efficiency and utilization of existing infrastructure.

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鈥 Improved logistics: Multimodal transportation includes beneficial logistics for freight movement, by using the most suitable and efficient mode of transport for each segment of the journey. This can reduce the delivery time, cost and environmental impact of freight transportation, and increase the competitiveness and profitability of a business.

鈥 Increased sustainability: Multimodal transportation can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts of transportation, by shifting from high-emission modes such as cars and trucks to low-emission modes such as passenger and freight rail, water, or electric vehicles. This will improve the air quality and health of the communities and contribute to the mitigation and adaptation of climate change.

One of the key steps to implementing a multimodal transportation system in Maine is to extend the Amtrak service from Portland to Bangor, which would make 90% of all Maine residents within a one-hour car drive to a passenger rail station site.

This would provide a fast, reliable and affordable alternative to driving for intercity travel, connecting Maine to Boston and the rest of the Northeast Corridor. It would also stimulate investments in development, tourism and job creation along the route, all while reducing emissions and congestion from cars and trucks.

Unfortunately, this project faces many challenges and delays: funding, feasibility, lack of political support. In 2023, Gov. Janet Mills鈥 administration issued two studies recommending bus expansions instead of new rail networks, which the state called imprudent. This decision is short-sighted. It ignores long-term benefits and opportunities of existing railroad infrastructure for Maine and its people.

We urge the state to reconsider and support the extension of Amtrak from Portland to Bangor, as part of a comprehensive and visionary multimodal transportation plan for Maine. We also call on the public and stakeholders to voice their opinions and preferences, and to participate in the planning and decision-making process. We can build a multimodal transportation system serving the needs and interests of all Mainers, preparing us for a greener and better future.

Please ask your legislators to support passage of L.D. 860, Amtrak to Lewiston-Auburn, Waterville and Bangor.


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